Archive | January 22, 2008

Will Keith Halderman Back Up His Charge?

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

I’ve argued that the decision as to whether to support Ron Paul’s candidacy involves a trade-off between long-term and short-term gains; that there is no one rationally compulsory way for libertarians to resolve this trade-off; that my own commitments give me reason not to support his candidacy, but that nevertheless I wish him success.

Ron PaulKeith Halderman evidently thinks I am lying. That is, he apparently believes not only that my position as described above is mistaken (which of course it may well be) but that it is not my real position. Or so I infer from a recent L&P thread in which he writes, addressing me:

let us be clear about this, your time preference is not to ignore Paul’s effort because you do not think he can succeed, your time preference is to actively work against his success

This is a surprising assertion. After all, here’s a sampling of my remarks about Ron Paul over the past year (from posts here, here, here, and here):

1. Most of my libertarian comrades seem to think that Ron Paul is either a) the Second Coming, or b) the Apocalypse. … I’m somewhere in between: I have a lot of serious problems with his candidacy, but I admit I’m also gratified every time I see his poll numbers rising.

2. I have plenty of problems with Ron Paul – most notably on immigration, abortion, and gay rights. But he is astronomically superior to any other Republican candidate out there; I wish him well, and hope he shakes up the GOP plenty.

3. I neither endorse nor oppose Paul (I disagree with him on too many issues to officially “endorse” him; but I vastly prefer him to all his rivals and thus wish his campaign well).

4. Paul, despite his deviations, would likely pursue policies whose direct results would be significantly more libertarian than otherwise. … I think that’s a reason to hope he does well, and I do hope he does well. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if there were a button such that pushing it would guarantee Paul’s election … then I would happily push it.

5. I don’t support Ron Paul’s candidacy, then, because my own talents, proclivities, and commitments lie with the Agorist and left-libertarian projects, and I value the promotion of those projects over the short-term benefits that Paul’s candidacy might gain at the expense of those projects. But I can’t see that this preference is compulsory for everybody. Even if every libertarian ought to be an Agorist and a cultural lefty … it seems to me that it does not follow that every libertarian ought to make the trade-off between those long-run projects and the possible short-run gains from Paul’s candidacy the same way I do.

I think it’s fairly clear, then, that my position is not fairly describable as “to actively work against his success.” Keith Halderman’s description of my position is baseless.

I’ve repeatedly asked him to offer evidence for his claim, but so far he has made no response. Well, perhaps he hasn’t looked in the comments section to his last post lately. So I’m moving my query to L&P’s main page.

Keith, please either back up your charge or retract it.

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